The first thing Raleigh said to me this morning upon waking was, “I shouldn’t have got this skin.” I was removing his pajamas and getting him ready for a bath. His eyes are tired, his hair is a mess, he isn’t happy. He is dry as bare bones first thing in the morning. His face is often flaky, and I can see where he’s itched through the night. The rest of his body is a variety of colors, textures, and levels of eczema, and some of his skin is white and soft. When the pajamas and wet wraps, that are now dry wraps, come off his hands move quickly all over his torso or back to itch the dry skin. It is as if he has no control over this reaction. His hands move like a swarm of bees all over his body searching for a dry patch, and I fight to get him to stop. “Stop itching. Control yourself. Please, stop itching,” I beg. It’s relentless, exhausting, and maddening. It’s our every morning, and I dread it every morning. Mornings are tough here. They pull my heart in directions I’d rather not go, and I feel depths of pain I wish I didn’t have to experience. Oh, we are deep in the waters right now.
We are 72 days into the GAPS diet. We are still in the Intro GAPS diet, hovering somewhere between Stage 1 and Stage 2, and Raleigh is beginning to lose it over food he can’t have. I have a phone call scheduled with our GAPS practitioner next week, and I’m praying she’s wanting to try new foods because he needs something to change or give or both.
Currently he is eating chicken, chicken livers, vegetables in chicken stock, beef in various forms; meatballs, hamburgers, beef bone marrow, and the glorious fat that hardens on top – that’s his favorite. But that is about it. I didn’t expect to be this far into the diet and still be on the Intro diet. I was certain he would be on the Full GAPS diet by now and that he would at least be having some ripe fruit by this point, but alas, this whole thing has taken us by surprise.
In the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Campbell-McBride writes that the short end for healing for a child is six months and the long end is 18 months. She says children, because their bodies have such capacity to heal quickly, can see healing in that time frame. We are just barely past the 2 month mark. So I keep reminding myself that this is still the beginning, and we have seen some positive change however slow and small it may be.
I was cut off from writing at this point and neglected to pick the pen back up.
Fast forward one day.
On Thursday morning, August, 24th, a day after I began writing this post, Raleigh woke up to tell me he felt sick, like he would throw up, and he sort of melted onto the floor, hugging his stomach, informing me that the bad bugs were winning and his tummy hurt. His skin was incredibly dry and flaky from his scalp to his feet. Typically, he is The Tempest upon waking, but this morning was different, and I wasn’t sure if he had caught a stomach bug mid-summer or if this was just because he had skipped a day and needed to have a bowel movement.
Thankfully, he was able to take his probiotic and began to drink his lemon water, the first two things he gets every morning. I warmed up his food as I usually do and prepared the rest of his supplements. He barely took two bites of his favorite food, beef bone marrow, that I had prepared that night specifically for this morning’s breakfast. Typically, this food causes him to leap for joy, sing from the roof tops, and jump into the air while clicking his heels, so when he barely took two bites, I knew we were in for a day.
He proceeded to slump onto the couch, leaving all of his food untouched, and complain that his tummy hurt every two minutes on cue. Late morning I realized he had a fever, and he was still complaining about his stomach and the bad bugs. He hadn’t moved from the couch in hours or eaten anything more. I started to wonder if this was another round of die-off. Since he had not thrown up or proven to have any sort of stomach bug, die-off seemed like a legit option. Die-off can have many side effects, including all he was experiencing, and I remembered reading somewhere that die-off can occur multiple times throughout the GAPS diet.
As the day progressed, our brown couch started to look speckled with fake snow. We saw this in the first week when he was going through the most intense die-off we’ve seen to date and candida was being killed. I haven’t been so lucky to read anything about this, but after watching this process unfold a handful of times now, we feel like this sloughing off of dead skin must be a significant part of healing for him. When this happens, his skin begins to clear, it feels moisturized and soft, and usually remains clear or clear-ish. Frankly, it’s a pretty incredible thing to see unfold.
At the end of the day he asked for a bath, and we obliged. As we helped him out of his clothes, we could tell certainly something was taking place in his body and larger portions of skin were clear and other tougher spots, like his torso and lower back, were less aggravated looking as well. It was exciting, but, even in my excitement, I was mentally fighting a battle to temper my excitement for fear the eczema would just creep back up and take over like kudzu. Eczema is a lot like kudzu when I think about it; unwanted, overwhelming, and everywhere.
So why did this happen and why now? We have no clue. We haven’t changed anything significant enough in the last couple of days. I also haven’t had the time to search for answers. I will be speaking with his GAPS practitioner next week and maybe she’ll have an answer for us, or perhaps it’s simply part of the process of his gut healing and sealing and the visual for us is the renewing of his skin; from the inside out. But, what we’ve told him is that this means the good bugs are winning. Because they are winning, and they will win.
It did give us a boost of hope. To see something so encouraging happen in one day renewed my mind that we are on the right track. That being said, Saturday he woke up still clear in the spots that had cleared, but he quickly got worked up and emotional at his Saturday morning soccer game, and the emotion layered with the generous heat of the day caused a great deal of itching, and itching changes the skin. This road is a long road. I find myself wondering when the day will come that stress won’t trigger him to feel the itch. When will he have enough control to stop himself from digging in? What will this look like in a year? But really, what will this even look like next month?
I have so many questions and wonderings, and maybe I’ll find answers somewhere, but more likely the answers will reveal themselves to us slowly, in time, on days we weren’t necessarily asking the questions. Maybe it’s best to happen upon them that way. One thing is certain, we chose the right path for Raleigh. We chose the hard path, without a doubt, but the right one. And even though we aren’t at the end or anywhere near it, it feels victorious to be able to say we are on the right path. We are on the path to healing. We are.